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Google Street View turns to crowdsourcing, UK touts driverless cars, Mission to Mars moves forward

A quick look at what’s making news around the world of technology

Jim Kerr is Venture Publishing's Associate Director of Digital Initiatives. Get in touch with him at

Dec 19, 2013

by Jim Kerr

Google is taking a crowdsourcing approach to expanding its Google Maps network. Not long after partnering up with Parks Canada, the company has announced a new tool that allows users to take photos on an Android device or DSLR camera, upload it and make a “Street View” that others can navigate through. It’s a move that Google hopes will help expand its user base and improve the reach of its Google Maps service.

Speaking of Street View, it may soon be a whole lot easier to take those pictures Google is hoping for if you’re on the road in Britain. The UK government announced plans last week to become a world centre for the development of driverless cars. The BBC reports the government will conduct a review in 2014 to get the legislative and regulatory framework in place to have autonomous vehicles on the streets. The town of Milton Keynes is experimenting with driverless pods and hopes to have them running along the town’s pathways by mid-2017.

Calling it the “ultimate electronic babysitter,” an American advocacy group is raising a fuss over a new product from Fisher-Price this holiday season. The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood says a baby seat with an iPad holder at the front discourages interactions that are crucial to learning and healthy development. Fisher-Price says the product has received positive reviews so far from the people who bought it, adding the seat was never meant to be an educational product.

Twitter has reversed course after a controversial change to the service resulted in a massive outcry from users last week. The social media site removed the ability of people to block other users, making blocked accounts “invisible” instead. The difference meant that abusive users would be able to continue sending offensive tweets to someone else (which they wouldn’t see), as opposed to not being able to communicate at all with that person. Twitter says the change was aimed at making users feel safer online.

The Mars One Foundation is a step closer to its proposed manned mission to “The Red Planet.” The foundation says it has secured the services of Lockheed Martin and Surrey Satellite Technology to build a robotic lander and a communication satellite for an unmanned mission in 2018. That trip will demonstrate the technology that would be involved in a permanent human settlement on the planet. Over 200,000 people have signed up for the chance to move to Mars, though only four people will make the trip.

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